Discrete task switching in overload: A meta-analyses and a model

Christopher D. Wickens, Robert S. Gutzwiller, Amy Santamaria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Abstract We describe a computational multi-attribute decision model that predicts the decision aspect of sequential multitasking. We investigate how people choose to switch tasks or continue performing an ongoing task when they are in overload conditions where concurrent performance of tasks is impossible. The model is based on a meta-analytic integration of 31 experiments from the literature on applied task switching. Consistent trends from the meta-analysis, to avoid switching, and to switch to tasks lower difficulty, along with greater salience, priority and interest are used to set polarity parameters in the mathematical model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1925
Pages (from-to)79-84
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Interruptions
  • Multi-attribute decision making
  • Multi-tasking
  • Task switching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education
  • General Engineering
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


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